World Diabetes Day 14th November
According to a recent study by Diabetes UK, the leading charity in the UK for people affected by diabetes, 500 people living with the condition die prematurely every week in England and Wales*. Shockingly, many of these deaths could have been completely avoided had the condition been diagnosed earlier. With the correct management and a proactive mentality, the majority of the 3.7 million people in the UK living with the disorder can live a completely normal life.
Many diabetics develop the disorder later in life. Undoubtedly, recognising the signs of diabetes early benefits everyone – the sufferer, their loved ones and the clinicians who support with treatment. It may also be of no surprise that age, weight and certain lifestyle choices play a significant role in developing diabetes later in life.
In an effort to raise awareness of the condition in time for World Diabetes Day on the 14th November, David Glover, Managing Director of in-home care franchise, Caremark, shares his top tips from his Care Managers on how to recognise the signs of diabetes and the key distinctions between the different types.
It’s not just Type 1 and Type 2!
Perhaps the biggest misconception when it comes to diabetes is that there are only two types. Type 1 and Type 2 are most common, with approximately 90% suffering from Type 2 and almost 10% diagnosed with Type 1. However, a small percentage of women fall victim to Gestational diabetes during pregnancy, which is caused by an increase of hormones in the body and issues with the pancreas.
Further strains of the syndrome are maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY), a genetic mutation which can develop into diabetes, generally before offspring of those carrying the gene turn 25 years old, and neonatal diabetes, which is diagnosed in young children under the age of six months.
Type 1 diabetes – the basics
Type 1 diabetes, the less common of the two prevalent strains, has nothing to do with lifestyle. In fact, despite significant research, the cause is still unknown. It occurs when the immune system destroys the cells which create insulin – the hormone that helps move glucose into the body’s tissue. Without insulin, the glucose remains stagnant in the blood stream and cells are starved of the nutrients they need, causing abnormally high blood sugar levels.
Type 1 diabetes – the symptoms
1. Needing to use the loo more frequently because the body is trying to rid itself of the dormant glucose which has a knock-on effect on the body’s natural cycle, causing…
2. Extreme thirst, as your body is trying to combat the feeling of ‘drying out’
3. Exhaustion is also a significant factor of diabetes. Glucose provides the energy the body requires, so to try and imitate the lack of glucose, the body breaks down fat stores to provide fuel. This is the number one reason for significant and sudden weight loss.
Type 2 diabetes – the basics
Type 2 diabetes affects approximately 3.3 million in the UK. It is usually caused by poor lifestyle choices, with obesity, a lack of exercise and poor diet contributing to the condition advancing. Considering these factors, the elderly are deemed to be more at risk of developing the condition, as they become less active and have less control over their diet and routine with advancing years.
Unlike Type 1 diabetes, the body still produces the insulin required, but doesn’t use it as it should. Initially, the pancreas will create more insulin in an attempt to get glucose into the cells, but the body then can’t cope with the increased amount, so sugar builds up in the blood stream. Being overweight is one of the most common causes of Type 2 diabetes, as the body can’t break down the intake of overly sugary or fatty foods.
Type 2 diabetes – the symptoms
Unlike the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes, which come on very suddenly, there are many more symptoms of Type 2 which can take much longer to manifest. They are:
1. Increased thirst or dry mouth
2. Increased hunger – more often than not, soon after eating a full meal
3. Headaches, blurred or slow loss of vision
4. Needing to use the loo more frequently
5. Sudden or unexplained weight loss
6. Slow healing cuts, sore or itchy skin
7. Tingling in the hands and/or feet
8. In severe case, loss of consciousness.
Due to the slow development of one, two or all of these symptoms, many Type 2 sufferers don’t even know they have it – in fact, it’s estimated that one in four people with Type 2 have no idea that they’ve been living with the condition. The long-term health implications can vary, but in some cases, can result in sight loss, stroke and life-threatening heart conditions.
David summarises, “If you recognise any one of these signs, contact your local GP, who can offer support in diagnosis. It’s important to understand that, although there’s no formal cure for any of the strains of diabetes, medication and small lifestyle changes often provide a better quality of life for sufferers. Perhaps look to loved ones, family and friends for support in maintaining treatment. At Caremark, we’ve put significant measures in place to ensure that our clients who suffer from Diabetes are assisted with their daily routine, meaning they feel assured that their health is prioritised.
“Diabetes, as with many other health conditions, is best treated when diagnosed early, so it’s really important that the symptoms and causes are communicated to those at risk. Our network of care workers across the UK are trained to recognise symptoms and we help our clients to adjust lifestyle when diagnosed.”
Visit the Diabetes UK website to calculate your risk of developing diabetes
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